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Who’s in the Basket    February 18, 2020

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Saul of Tarsus was the first great persecutor of the church.  In a blaze of glory, he met the resurrected Jesus while on his way to Damascus to attack the church there.  Then, instead of attacking the Church Paul started preaching fearlessly about this Jesus who rose from the grave.  The Jews sought to kill Paul because he was preaching Jesus as the Messiah who bore our sins on the cross, died in our place, and rose from the dead to bring us life.  As the enraged Jews looked everywhere in Damascus for Paul, he was lowered in a basket from the walls to make his escape.  When we share the Gospel with even just one person, and they receive the message and are born again we never know who might’ve just climbed in the basket.

Long long ago and far far away back in the dream time before Facebook, Amazon, and streaming, my wife and I felt the call to hold church services on the campus of a state university.  Everyone told us that would be impossible what with the judiciously manufactured liberal imposed mythical Constitutional separation of church and state doctrine.  I questioned God, “Are you sure?” My wife and I questioned each other, “Are you sure?”  But try to resist as much as we could the calling wouldn’t leave us alone.

I traipsed from office to office asking one bureaucrat after another for permission to hold church services in a public building on the campus of a state university.  Discouragement stalked me as I scuttled from “No,” to “No,” to “No way!”  In the natural I was skeptical when I started and after a month or two of pushing that big rock up that steep hill all I could do was encourage myself in the Lord to keep plodding on.  All we had was prayer.   Happily, that was all we needed.

I finally located the right bureaucrat.  He was the one in charge of renting space to outside groups.  After a diligent search and several misdirected wrong turns, I located his office buried deep beneath a massive pile of bricks and steel.  Then I learned he was never in his office.  Whenever I showed up his secretary would tell me, ‘He just left,” “He’s off for the day,” or “You just missed him.”  I tried coming at every hour of the day on every day of the week.  After a month or so it got to be a running joke between me and the secretary.  I’d pop in and she’d laugh, “He just left,” or one of her other variations of “You’re wasting your time.”

Then one day I walked in and there was the invisible bureaucrat standing in the middle of the room.  Before the Secretary could laugh or say anything I blurted out, “I want to rent a room to hold church services.”

To my surprise he said, “No problem.”  Then as he vanished into his inner sanctum he tossed, “Becky draw up a contract for the second-floor meeting room in the Student Union at the regular rate.”   Within a week we were singing praises to God and preaching the Gospel on the campus of that state university.  Everyone said it couldn’t be done.  I didn’t think it was possible.  But God did it.

For the next six months every Sunday we carried our keyboard, guitar, and a box of Bibles into the upper room.  Every Wednesday, as part of our rental agreement, we had an informational booth in the Student Union inviting people to the service.

The response was underwhelming but as church planters and domestic missionaries we were used to empty seats.  We had some students who came.  We had a few who came more than once.  And we had one who came faithfully time after time.  This one student eventually confessed Jesus as his personal Lord and confessed that God had raised Jesus from the dead.  He stepped from the darkness into the light, from death into life and now twenty-five years later he’s still praising God and trying his best to share the life, the light, and the joy he found with others.

As a couple of believers who’ve devoted most of our lives to preaching the Gospel, if this one born again believer is the totality of all we’ve done and all we will do before the curtain comes down … that’s more than enough.  Thank you, Father, for allowing us to see the fruit from Your vine.

As slim as the attendance was, we praised God every day for the opportunity and gave him glory for opening a door everyone thought could not be opened.  Then they shut us down.  They cancelled our contract and slammed the door shut.

I went to see the long elusive bureaucrat to find out why.  He told me a delegation of local pastors came to the school to complain because we were holding service on campus and they weren’t.  The religious spirit did its best to stop the Spirit.  But we know He opens doors, and no one can shut what He’s opened until the appointed time.  The anointing moved on and we knew God had accomplished what he’d sent us there to do.  Someone had climbed into the basket.

This reminds me of another time God called me to do something.  He called me to stand in front of an abortion mill.  I am the ever-remorseful father of four aborted babies.  Forgiven but ashamed of what I did, but not too ashamed to confess my sin publicly if there’s even the slightest chance doing so might save a life and save someone else from living with the pain and emptiness I feel.  For about six months several days a week I stood a lonely vigil in all types of weather with a handmade sign reading, “I repent for aborting my children” on one side and “God Forgave me” on the other.

People would drive by and honk.  Some would give me the thumbs up.  Others would use another digit to send a different message.  The police came and told me I had to leave.  But I was on public property and I refused.  The people from the abortion mill tried several tactics to chase me away.  Some people on their way in to end the lives of their children stopped to berate me and call me everything except a child of God.

No matter what the weather, no matter how vile the abuse I stayed there because I felt God called me to bear witness, so I stood my ground.  Then one day a couple stopped by on their way into the abortion mill and read me the riot act.  They told me what a terrible person I was.  They told me it was their choice.  They yelled and gestured as loudly as any one ever did.  Then about a half hour later they came back and in tears told me God had convicted them and they’d changed their mind.  They were going to keep their baby.

Immediately I felt released from that call.  Someone had climbed into the basket.

You might not know who’s in the basket.  You may never know.  All we need to know is that when God says stand there and hold the rope, we need to do our part and leave the results up to Him because it’s not about who we are and what we do.  It’s all about who He is and what He’s done.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

I’m Blessed November 19, 2018

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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When asked by the Barna Group, “Do we have a personal responsibility to share our faith with others?” a majority of Christians answer in the affirmative. 

100% of Evangelicals and 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice however, the numbers shift downward. Only 69% of Evangelicals and 52% of born again Christians say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. 

“Born again Christians” were defined in these surveys as people who said they have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today” and who also indicated they believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they had confessed their sins and had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “born again.” Being classified as “born again” is not dependent upon church or denominational affiliation or involvement. 

“Evangelicals” meet the born again criteria described above plus seven other conditions. Those include: saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance, the denominational affiliation of the church attended, or self-identification. 

Many people have a hard time sharing their faith in Christ.  They feel as if they don’t want to be perceived as pushy.  Possibly they’re afraid to speak to strangers or they don’t know how to get a conversation to a place where speaking about faith might be appropriate. 

Here’s an easy, comfortable way that my wife introduced me to many years ago. 

In America a common greeting is, “Hi how’re you doing?” 

Most people aren’t really concerned with how we’re doing it’s just a greeting.  However, when someone asks us a question we’re free to answer it and it’s a natural and comfortable thing to do. 

Whenever I’m asked America’s greeting “Hi how’re you doing?” 

I answer, “I’m blessed.”   

The reactions are very interesting.  Some just give a quizzical look.  Some say, “You are?” which is another question.   

And as in the initial situation answering a question is an easy natural thing to do.  I’ll answer, “You are?” with something like “I am and I won’t accept anything less.” 

Sometimes people will answer with another question something like, “Why are you blessed?” and this opens the door for easily speaking about Jesus gave it to me and the world can’t take it away or some other friendly answer that leads directly to speaking of Jesus.  Not often but every once in a while it leads to an actual chance to share the hope of the Gospel.  If nothing else it opens the door to speak the name of Jesus in public.  And you never know who might be listening and what the sound of that Name may have in the ripple effect of reality. 

Sometimes our initial response of “I’m blessed” is met with, “I am too.”  This opens a door for fellowship with a fellow believer and the collateral opportunity for others to hear people who aren’t afraid to share their faith in public and another opportunity to speak the Name of Jesus into the air of a world that needs him. 

This type of conversational evangelism is reflected in one T-shirt I have.  It says, “I’m Blessed” and then under that large headline it offers an answer to anyone who might ask why, “You better ask Jesus.” 

It’s also reflected in the words to an old song from the hills of Missouri:  

I’m Blessed and I know that I am since Jesus took control of my life. 

I’m blessed and I know that I am since He gave to me a new life. 

I’m blessed and if you happen to ask how I am my friend. 

I’m Blessed, I’m Blessed, I’m Blessed 

So for any of us who find it hard to get started with sharing the good news of the Gospel with others why not give, “I’m blessed,” a try since we are.  Then get ready to walk through any doors God decides to open. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

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